What marketing is…and is not

“I don’t believe in marketing.”

This is what a CEO who has a few successful tech startups under his belt told someone I know. And it made me laugh.

Have you ever told someone sitting next to you on plane what your company does? That’s marketing.

Have you ever pitched a client on the value of your solution? That’s marketing.

Have you ever followed up with an unhappy customer to make things right? That’s marketing.

Too many people believe marketing is simply about placing expensive ads or ordering silly tradeshow tchotchkes that end up sitting in a storage closet somewhere, gathering dust.  They dismiss it because they haven’t seen it done in the right way – and then wonder why they slog to gain traction. “If our sales reps just “sold” better, we wouldn’t be having such a hard time,” they say.

Here’s the deal: Marketing is communication. Communicating the value that your product or service offers to the people who will buy it.

I guess he doesn’t believe in communicating what his company does, why they are different or speaking to a customer’s needs. I suppose people will just see the product or service, instantly understand how it can help them without a word being spoken or read, and say, “Gee, I need that widget now!”

Can you be successful without an official marketing director or an earmarked “marketing budget”? Well, yeah. Businesses do it all the time. But don’t try to tell me your company is not performing marketing.

If they don’t have a marketing function, they normally burden the sales process with performing both sales and marketing at the same time. Marketing is about communication and positioning based on market analysis that ultimately helps a sales rep sell something. Marketing as a function exists to make it easier to sell.

If you have a sales pitch, a product label, or a 50-word company descriptor – those are all elements of marketing. And if you approach it with marketing discipline to create a foundation and maintain clarity and consistency, you can go a lot further than if you reinvent the wheel on the fly each time.

I’m not sure what there is not to believe in about that.

Photo credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis (PMTips.net)

Ever work with someone who did not “get” the value of marketing? What was that experience like? What is your definition of marketing? Please share in the Comments!


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